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‘Just sleep is all I want to do’

Samuel Osborne |

A year ago, boxing legend Muhammad Ali died at the age of 74 after being admitted to hospital with a respiratory condition. As tributes celebrating the life of "The Greatest” were posted on social media at the time of his passing, many shared a video of an interview in which Ali was asked what he would do when he retired.

“Just sleep is all I want to do,” Ali says after pretending to fall asleep on stage. He then talks about the importance of the amount of time people actually spend living their lives. A child asked Muhammad Ali what he would do when he retired. His long, beautiful answer stunned the crowd. “No, when I retire from boxing I really don't know, I want to say something right there, this might make you all think,” Ali says.

Life is not really long, let's say the average person is 30 years old. If you're 30 years old you're not but about seven years old. Add up all the seven, eight, nine hours you slept for 30 years, out of 30 years add up all the nights when you went to bed and this morning don't remember a thing. “You’ve been unconscious for about eight years if you’re 30 years old. You’ve slept for about eight years.

“How much travelling have you done in 30 years? From the television station to home to another country to another city to school to church. You’ve probably spent two years of your life just going back and forth to where you’re going.

“So there’s eight years of sleeping and two years of travelling, that’s 30 years out of your life before you accomplish anything.

“How long do you sit in school in America? We stay in school from the first grade to the 12th grade, six hours a day. Six hours a day for 12 years, break it down you sit in the classroom for three years without leaving.

“Okay, two years of travelling, eight years of sleeping, three years of school, how many movies have you went to, how many wrestling matches, how much entertainment, how many movie theatres, live plays, baseball games, probably two years of entertainment.

“So by the time you have children, by the time you’ve made way for your children, by the time you pay for your home, you’re pushing 60 years old. So life is real short. So you add up all your travelling, add up all your sleeping, add up all your school, add up all your entertainment, you’ve probably spent half your life doing nothing.

“So I’m 35 years old. 30 more years I’ll be 65. We don’t have no more influence, we can’t do nothing much at 65, your wife will tell you that. So what I’m saying is when you’re 65 ain’t too much more to do. Did you know I’ll be 65 in 30 more years? In those 30 years, I have to sleep nine years, I don’t have 30 years of daylight, I have to travel back to America, all my travelling, probably four years of travelling, about nine years of sleeping, about three years of entertainment.

“Out of 30 years, I might have 16 years to be productive. So that’s how we can break our individual lives down.”

He then says the best thing he can do in the next 16 years is “get ready to meet God”, before going on to speak about his belief in divine judgement, heaven and hell.

“He (God) wants to know how do we treat each other, how do we help each other, so I’m going to dedicate my life to using my name and popularity to helping charities, helping people, uniting people.”

The Independent